International Trade and Development Law (6 ECTS)
When: Block 4
Brief course description: The World Trade Organization deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its overriding purposes are to regulate the trade in goods and services, to prevent unnecessary and discriminatory measures, and in this way to help trade flow as freely as possible — so long as there are no undesirable side effects — because this is important for economic development and well-being (wto.org). This course is intended to explore and discuss the complex field of international trade law, in particular the legal regime of the WTO, as a distinctive branch of international law and to investigate whether and how the liberalization of international trade supports or hampers economic development and well-being in developing countries. Many international documents and conferences have called “to develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system” (Millennium Development goal 8). In 2001, the WTO members states committed themselves to “continue to make positive efforts designed to ensure that developing countries, and especially the least-developed among them, secure a share in the growth of world trade commensurate with the needs of their economic development”. Did they succeed? The course will start with addressing the rules of international trade law as developed and applied in the context of the WTO, with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) as a core legal instrument, and the structure and relevant case law of the WTO system for settlement of trade-related disputes. Particular attention will be given to analysing general exceptions within the trade law regime to balance trade law with general objectives of for example human rights protection, preservation of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development. Moreover, specific privileges and exemptions for developing countries as contained within the agreements will be discussed and an investigation will be made whether these are sufficient to address the concerns of the developing countries. The initiation in 2001 of the Doha development round of WTO negotiations suggests that developing country members of the WTO expect more. As not much has yet been achieved in the Doha round so far, what can be said about the future of the WTO as a multilateral trade organization with universal aspirations?
Teaching method: The course will be taught in a combination of lectures and discussion groups. The lectures will focus on introducing and discussing the legal regime, whereas in the discussion groups, students will on the basis of a reading list engage in academic dialogue related to international trade regime in its societal context, notably on its contribution of economic development to poorer regions and groups in the world. Students will be assigned specific roles in these discussions, either as chair, discussant of a particular paper or article, or represent a specific group or interest.
Assessment: The course will be assessed in a written exam with essay questions.
*Official course information and schedules during the academic year can be found in Ocasys.
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